Heading into the 2018 midterm elections, Ron DeSantis was a Republican congressman from Florida and a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus. In that election year, he barely won the governor’s race, defeating Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andres Gillum (D) 49.6% to 49.2%. Fast forward four years and the tale has changed dramatically.
DeSantis defeated Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist by nearly 20 points — 59.4% to 40.0%. That wasn’t all; under his leadership, the state turned deep red, and the GOP added seats to the legislature and sent more members to Congress. While the rest of the party struggled across much of the country, Florida may have revealed a blueprint to help Republicans win moving forward.
Governor Responds to Trump’s Criticism
In light of the big wins in the Sunshine State, some in the GOP believe DeSantis could take on former President Donald Trump and win in the 2024 Republican presidential primary. In the days since the midterm elections, Trump has attacked him on several occasions. On Tuesday, November 15, the governor held a press conference to discuss his victory. He shared how the Grand Old Party could change the political landscape and move the country in a pro-freedom direction. Hours later, Trump announced his candidacy for the White House.
Responding to the former president, DeSantis said the election results stemmed from the leadership of the last four years. He asked the media to look at the election results and said it was the “greatest Republican victory” in Florida’s history from top to bottom.
The governor noted how not only was his victory resounding, but so were the results in the legislature. DeSantis said 85 out of 120 Republicans represent constituents in the State House and, in the Senate, 28 out of 40 senators are now GOP members. He touted both as historic highs. In addition, he emphasized his state was sending 20 Conservatives to the US House of Representatives — a pickup of four seats statewide.
DeSantis Provides Blueprint for Future GOP Election Victories
When asked what went wrong across the country, the Florida leader said it was an “underwhelming, disappointing performance” considering President Joe Biden’s unpopularity and people believing the country is going in the wrong direction. He pointed to the Sunshine State as the blueprint for electoral success moving forward.
The governor alluded to results as the answers, saying Florida Republicans didn’t back down on big issues and provided strong leadership. He noted people who voted for them were from different political parties and won independent voters by 15 to 20 points. DeSantis said Republicans likely earned 60% of the Hispanic vote and touted it as a record no one else in the GOP ever achieved. In addition, he won the large Democratic counties around Miami in places people didn’t believe were possible.
DeSantis noted good policies and leadership could influence voters who are not in the GOP and may not agree with them on every issue.